'Few living poets can write as perceptively and as movingly... The tragic vision expressed throughout the collection makes Gorse Fires burn with grim intensity. This is major work.'John Banville, Independent on Sunday
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College Dublin where he read Classics. He has published ten collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award, and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won the Hawthornden Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Prize. His Collected Poems was published in 2006. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003 the Wilfred Owen Award. He was awarded a CBE in 2010. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry, 2007-2010. He and his wife, the critic Edna Longley, live and work in Belfast.
Longley's skilfulness and experience are evident in poems where, in
the choice of a single word, the focus of the description shifts...
For all its looking back, however, the book feels curiously
timeless... In his poems of the natural world, Longley is still a
master of miniatures: there is an astonished, almost shortsighted
intensity to the way he looks at what lies around him, in his
familiar Carrigskeewaun habitat as well as in the Scottish locales
this collection also visits. -- John McAuliffe * The Irish Times
A contemporary who should endure over the life of our language -- Donald Hall
Longley may not possess, or want, the international glamour of some of his contemporaries, but the poems in Gorse Fires, both individually and collectively, bewitch with the magic of coherence -- Carol Ann Duffy * Guardian *
A keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders -- Seamus Heaney
Michael Longley's poems have matched a sense of history and the brutal present with a recurrent feeling for the lyrical moment and the fragility of experience -- James Fenton